People: Jill Clayburgh, who embodied hopeful and determined women in such '70s and '80s movies as An Unmarried Woman and It's My Turn, died at her Connecticut home on Friday from chronic leukemia, a disease she quietly battled for 21 years, her husband, playwright David Rabe, told The New York Times. She was 66.
Earlier this week, the couple's daughter, actress Lily Rabe, took a temporary leave of absence from the Broadway show in which she is about to open, Shakespeare's A Merchant of Venice, starring Al Pacino. A spokesperson for the show said only that it was a private family matter that caused Rabe to take leave.
Besides her movie roles, Clayburgh was also highly visible on TV, on Law & Order, The Practice and Nip/Tuck, as well as an ongoing role as mother Jeannie on Ally McBeal.
Nominated for an Oscar for 1978's An Unmarried Woman, which was arguably her best screen role, Clayburgh played a vulnerable-but-courageous abandoned wife on Manhattan's Upper East Side who finds her independence when she has an affair with a sexy artist (Alan Bates), with her character learning by the fade-out that being on her own is just fine.
The only daughter of a wealthy book-cloth manufacturer and an actress turned assistant to legendary theatrical producer David Merrick, Clayburgh grew up a poor-little-rich-girl on Manhattan's East Side. Her grandmother, Alma Clayburgh, was a prominent socialite and opera singer.
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